The “Texas First” calamity has highlighted the necessity of restoring federal powers, which President Biden — channeling FDR — has seized with vaccination programs, relief spending and $15 minimum wage, all supported by over two-thirds of Americans. The GOP doesn’t even have a good Herbert Hoover.

Both the Boy Scouts (“Be Prepared”) and the Coast Guard (“Semper Paratus”) urge us to get ready for emergencies. But we seem to always get caught unprepared, flabbergasted that unforeseen (but foreseeable) events could do so much damage.

The latest is Texas’s massive power outage. Texas’s energy utilities say no one could see it coming but had suffered one in 2011. Extreme cold froze the electrical grid and natural-gas installations, which were not winterized; it eats into profits. Texas opted out of interstate electrical grids because its utilities hate federal regulation, such as adding emergency capacity. Uninsulated Texas homes heat with electricity, which suddenly vanished. One variable-rate provider, based on spot-market contracts, billed electricity customers $1,000 a DAY and more. Texans suddenly had no heat, food or water. Outage turned to outrage.

Gov. Greg Abbott dodged responsibility. He charged that the Green New Deal pushed renewables until Texas had insufficient fossil-fuel power plants. Not so. Texas’s wind turbines produce 10% of its winter power (more in other seasons), but some froze up because they weren’t weatherized. Too expensive. Abbott, one might say, tilted at windmills.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who supports Green New Deal proposals, could ridicule Abbott’s nonsense by announcing: “Yes, I caused the Texas power outage. And I alone can fix it.” Then, when power is restored, she announces with a wink: “I delivered on my promise.”

During the energy crunches of earlier decades, Texas moved to keep its abundant energy in-state. Yankees could “freeze in the dark.” What goes around comes around. Texas First doesn’t work; the state needs to connect to the rest of the nation. Austin had no trouble accepting millions in federal disaster aid.

I just tasted unpreparedness in Nashville, which also can’t handle much winter. That same storm dropped a few inches of snow and temperatures into the teens for a week. My front door froze shut, trapping us inside. I dug my way through a rear patio, walked around front and chipped the ice away with a claw hammer. Not that I was going anywhere; Nashville roads were dangerously icy, closing schools, stores and banks. Mainers have a lot of practice for these things.

Wasn’t it always like this? True, historically the U.S. has suffered many natural disasters, but recently we have been reluctant to plan for bigger severe weather events, be they storms or droughts. Once-in-a-century events now come every few years. The wilder new normal overturns old assumptions of calculable risk.

Some still dismiss climate change: “What global warming? See how cold it is.” (Actually, the Arctic is warming.) This parallels the coronavirus pandemic, which many still scoff at. The COVID vaccine rollout was a mess. The world’s most advanced country could not supervise nationwide vaccination. It was up to the states, each of which saw its duties differently. Weeks were lost. Many still search online and on the phone to get their shots. No single communication network is in charge. Instead, a number of networks give conflicting misinformation.

Every emergency creates new blunders. As Katrina approached in 2005, federal, state and local authorities issued few warnings to New Orleans. School buses could have both been saved from flooding and moved residents out of town. Instead, they sat. A giant sports arena filled to overflowing, unequipped to handle desperate citizens. Foreign visitors were appalled at the shambolic response: no one in charge.

At bottom, the problem is that a fraction of Americans — especially in Texas — hate government. They don’t want government at any level — but especially the federal level — to plan or supervise anything, including emergencies. People should look out for themselves and their families. They chant a market-fundamentalist conservatism that never existed.

How to handle people like these? Again, ridicule may be the best criticism. Tell them: “You ain’t gonna let gummint tell you what side of the road to drive on, are you? No, sir! You love freedom. If you feel like driving on the left, that’s your choice.” Better not say that too loud; some may believe it.

We can, as Steve Bannon — the closest Trump came to ideology — put it, “deconstruct the administrative state,” but we pay a price: national weakness. The postal service, State Department and much in between have been gutted.

Markets are indeed powerful. They bring investment, innovation and new jobs. But they cannot do everything, especially police themselves and anticipate much. Houston-based Enron preached free market but collapsed in 2001, charged with deception and manipulation. Texas is now one big Enron. Should the rest of the country bail them out? How about on the condition that Texas joins the national power grid?